Are you overthinking it? I have a simple theory about why entrepreneurs fail to move forward with their projects: They spend too much time weighing their options.
I constantly stress the importance of doing one’s homework. Studying whatever it is you want to master is essential to your success. But at what point should you take action? At what point have you read enough? Talked to enough experts? Gone to enough trade shows? These are great ways of gathering research. But there comes a time when you need to jump in or move on.
I teach people about entrepreneurship for a living. Some of my students are very hesitant. They ask a lot of questions, which is great, but are unable to make a decision. They find excuses not to move forward. My educational program is a year long. Some spend an entire year on one project. That’s too long.
I’ve noticed that what makes some entrepreneurs successful is also their downfall. These individuals consider the smallest details. They obsess over this and that. That’s all well and fine, but I want to tell them, “You have to keep pushing! You can’t lose sight of the goal at hand.”
Working on a project is fun. I get that. But becoming an entrepreneur means accepting that you might fail. At some point, you’ve got to shut off your brain, and make a move. You need momentum on your side. You can’t wait until you have every last detail worked out. You may miss the market if you do.
The reality is that thinking about your 10th move when you haven’t even taken a first doesn’t make sense. When you attempt to account for everything, you inevitably begin making assumptions. I’ve learned that my assumptions are often wrong. I’m guessing so are yours.
You will never have all of the answers. Repeat that like a mantra. I will never have all of the answers. Life is going to surprise you! I think I can say that at my age. There will be twists and turns. You’re better off having confidence in yourself. Believe that you can overcome any obstacle thrown your way and you will.
Of course it’s OK to be nervous. Being an entrepreneur takes courage. It's clearly not for everyone. If you’re afraid of the unknown, if you’re afraid of making a mistake -- well, you should think long and hard about committing to becoming an entrepreneur.
Related: The 7 Styles of Decision Making
If you’re struggling to get ahead, you may be overthinking it. To get yourself unstuck, focus on doing the following instead.
1. Be OK with not always having an answer.
You aren’t expected to, really. If you’re asked about an unknown, simply tell the person you’ll get back to them. Don’t try to fake it.
2. Take small steps.
Becoming successful is going to take longer than you want. By all means, look ahead, but not too far ahead. You don’t want to lose sight of your goal, but you also don’t want to let it intimidate you. The route you chart won’t look exactly like anyone else’s, which is why you have to stop studying at some point and go for it.
3. Commit to a deadline.
Good decisions take time. No one is asking you to rush. The way I look at it is this: Just keep trying to move the ball down the court. Sometimes you’ll make good decisions. Sometimes you’ll make poor decisions. What’s important is that you make a decision. Don’t let your fear of making a mistake cause you to be inert. Entrepreneurs make things happen. They don’t let things happen.
If you’re flexible and open-minded, your projects will be well on their way before you know it.